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CargoSprinter spearheads DB's attack on the merchandise market

01 Apr 1997

German Railway's second CargoSprinter prototype was handed to its owners at a colourful ceremony in the test shop of Waggonfabrik Talbot in Aachen on February 27. Klaus Junke from DB Cargo and Dipl-Ing Peter Fabel, Head of Freight Projects in DB's New Systems Division in Minden, received the crimson-painted unit from Stefan Stiefel, Chief Executive of Waggonfabrik Talbot, part of Bombardier Eurorail.

Much interest in the 'five-pack' train, designed to carry 10x20ft containers or their equivalent in 40ft units or swap bodies, was evident from other European railways - representatives were present from French and Belgian National Railways, Netherlands Railways and Danish State Railways. Other potential operators at the event included the Swedish BK Group and Hupac of Switzerland.

Dipl-Ing Fabel revealed that the train would begin commercial trials in July. He said several customers had expressed keen interest in Cargosprinter service, but DB Cargo wished to keep its launch plans confidential because of possible reaction from competitors.

Indeed, the Talbot Cargosprinter and its cousins from Windhoff of Rheine (RG 11.96 p703) are spearheading DB's assault on the high value merchandise market; both types are designed to be fully compatible. After years where growth in this market has been almost exclusively taken up by road haulage, DB has decided to fight back.

Keeping costs down is an essential part of DB's strategy, and this is why Talbot has used a large number of standard components. While Fabel would not reveal the value of the Talbot contract, he said that DB would not have bought the train if it had cost more than five heavy lorries. In terms of operating costs, he said that lorries did not have to pay track costs, but road hauliers did have to pay five drivers to move an equivalent load. If the two costs cancelled each other out, then DB was in business.

Several innovative elements are also aimed at driving down costs. Fabel emphasises that automatic couplings and the train's electronic self-testing brakes are part of the intelligent train policy - the aim is to avoid the manual coupling and manual brake testing in marshalling yards.

The CargoSprinter is powered by four six-cylinder Volvo standard bus engines with automatic gears and retarder braking. Emissions conform to Euronorm II. Mounted for easy access in the open frame of the end vehicles, each engine is rated at 265 kW and drives one axle of each bogie in the end vehicle through a mechanical transmission.

The engines and drive trains are assembled in Sweden by the BK Group into a pack for installation in the Talbot factory.

Control of the engine, gears, brakes and wheelslip protection is handled by Elin's Traction Automation System Eltas. This is a microprocessor-based system which processes and transmits commands from the driver's control desk. Provision is made for the parameters of selected functions to be changed using a range of programming tools; a number of diagnosis functions are offered.

The cab at each end enjoys air suspension and is air-conditioned. Standard Talbot DRRS power and trailer bogies are fitted; the three centre wagons form an articulated set mounted on four bogies. Two Knorr disc brakes are fitted on each axle.

At each end of the train is a Z-AK automatic coupling which will also accept standard screw couplings. Running with ordinary rolling stock is seen as an exception, and the intention is to run in multiple with up to six other CargoSprinters. Forming one element in DB's so-called 'Train Coupling & Train Sharing' concept, they will run from private siding to private siding, combining into trains of several sets for the trunk haul.

For marketing purposes Bombardier Eurorail has baptised its version of the CargoSprinter the Talion. o

TABLE: CargoSprinter suppliers:

Bombardier Eurorail: main contractor

Volvo: engines

Elin: control equipment

Knorr: disc brakes

Deuta-Werke: instrumentation

Mannesmann-Rexroth: pneumatics

TABLE: Length over buffers mm 89570

Width mm 2610

Loading floor height above rail mm 1155

Bogie wheelbase mm 2770

Distance between bogie centres mm 14200

Weight empty tonnes 113

laden tonnes 273

Maximum speed km/h (70% load) 120

(100% load) 100

CAPTION: Bombardier Eurorail launched its prototype CargoSprinter in the Talbot test shop in Aachen on February 27

CAPTION: Fig 1. Each vehicle of the lorry-like CargoSprinter can carry two 20ft containers

CAPTION: The CargoSprinter is fitted with Z-AK automatic couplers